The national mammal of America, the bison, is celebrated on the first Saturday of every November. Whilst an important day, you have probably already seen it throughout the year on a few state flags, or endorsed by small sports teams.
The reason they are celebrated, particularly in November, is due to the important impact that they have on North America, whether it is within culture or the environment. In fact, they are in particular respected by Tribal nations where they are noted as being buffalos.
There have been many efforts made to bring back bison to our wildlife. It has been successful – there are now over 40,000 – and they are in conservation to protect them, as well as living in herds amongst Tribal nations.
Native people in particular see bison as spiritual, but they have also become a national symbol across North America. So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at Bison and what you can do on National Bison Day.
Why Is Bison A National North American Animal?
Back in 2015, President Obama had the support from Native American tribes, senate members, and wildlife groups to sign a new law making the bison the national animal of North America.
In doing so, the law actually protects all bison from becoming extinct, which it was slowly on its way to becoming. Over time, people have banded together to try and bring the population of bison back up, with the law lamenting the fact that they are a protected species.
Whilst it is the national animal of North America, it is actually also the state animal for Kansas, Oklahoma and Wyoming.
How Did Bison Nearly Become Extinct?
Native people were known for having herds upon herds of bison around them in their daily lives. It was as common as seeing cows grazing on fields. The bison spent their time roaming the likes of the west all the way to the east, as well as the central plains in between.
As soon as pioneers arrived to go west, both the bison and Native people were seen as being in the way. This meant that the Native American tribes were forced to leave their own land by poachers, and even people who claimed to be from the government, but were not.
Over time, both the bison and Native Americans began to thin out and disappear. This meant that at the beginning of the 20th century, the bison population became almost extinct.
However, due to the efforts made by lots of different groups, bison have grown in population in vast numbers and are now a protected mammal.
Across the world there are up to 60 million of them roaming, whilst in North America there are around 40,000.
Was There A Mass Slaughter Of Bison?
There used to be around 30 million or so of bison roaming the Great Plains, but by the latter end of the 1800s, they were severely outnumbered by hunters. They were slaughtered in great numbers so terribly that there were only around 1,000 left in the wild.
The reason they survived (and fortunately at that) was because they were difficult to get to. They were roaming a remote part of Yellowstone National Park which meant that they did not get slaughtered.
Since then, the efforts of many have made sure that the bison population has grown into the thousands and thousands.
Are Bison Just Like Buffalos?
It often happens where a bison is mistaken for a buffalo, and vice versa. However, bison are actually not buffalo, despite the fact that they do look quite similar.
Bison are known for being native to several places such as Europe, North America and South America. Buffalo on the other hand are native to both Asia and Africa.
What Can You Do For National Bison Day?
There are many things you can do to show your support on National Bison day, so let’s take a look at them:
Go To A National Park
One of the best things you can do on National Bison Day is to visit a national park to see them roaming freely. Some of those that have bison are Yellowstone, Theodore Roosevelt, Wind Cave, and Badlands national parks.
It may not be possible for you and your family to travel to one of these national parks, so why not take a look online to see what bison videos you can watch on YouTube, or if there are any fun activities you can all do together.
There might even be some activity inspiration that you can do off the computer, like drawing pictures, making fun bison masks, or making bison inspired cupcakes.
There are a lot of bison petitions floating around currently in an effort to do more for the national mammal. Some are in support of bringing bison back to original lands which feature the reservations of Native Americans.
These petitions are showing people that the bison is important to Native tribes and how they are considered to be a sacred part of their lives.
There may be other petitions too, so it is worth having a look around to see how you can show your support. Maybe you could even raise funds for a particular national park if they take donations.
When it comes to the first Saturday of November, you will want to put on your bison T-shirt and either visit a national park or sign some petitions. The national mammal of North America is a protected species, and one you will want to celebrate.
Once they were seen as becoming extinct, but fortunately due to many efforts made by a plethora of groups, they have managed to bring back the bison to around 40 million across the world.
So, the next time you wonder why bison are so special, remember that there was a possibility of them not existing any more.